En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Monday - October 06, 2008

From: Citrus Heights, CA
Region: California
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Plants to control erosion in shade in California
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I need plants that will help prevent soil erosion on a sloping area under a wood fence. The area has filtered light. thank you!

ANSWER:

The best plants for erosion control are always native grasses. They have fibrous roots that will grip and hold the soil, and usually hold their places year-round. The only problem could be that you have "filtered" light. We are going to assume that means shade, which we consider to be sun for 2 hours or less a day. Most of the recommended grasses native to California are looking for full sun, which is 6 or more hours of sun a day. However, we did find 4 grasses that fit the bill, and another that, while not native to California, should do fine there. If you don't want grasses, we have a suggestion for a vine that can work as a groundcover, and two low groundcovers. These would not necessarily be as effective as grasses in controlling erosion, but would certainly help. We put those in because you mentioned the sloping area being beneath a wood fence, and you might need something low there.

Read our webpage on each plant, and follow the link at the bottom of the webpage to Google more information about the plant. If you find some that you think will work for you, go to our Native Plant Suppliers section, type in your town and state in the "Enter Search Location" and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed suppliers and landscape consultants in your general area. 

Danthonia californica (California oatgrass) - to 1-1/2 ft. tall. Pictures

Festuca californica (California fescue) - 3 to 6 ft. tall

Melica imperfecta (smallflower melicgrass) - 1 to 3 ft. tall

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama) - 2 to 3 ft. tall

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) - 2 to 4 ft. tall

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper) - can creep or climb, is listed as deciduous, but should be semi-evergreen in your area

Dichondra carolinensis (Carolina ponysfoot) - low growing groundcover

Calyptocarpus vialis (straggler daisy) - low growing groundcover


Festuca californica

Melica imperfecta

Bouteloua curtipendula

Chasmanthium latifolium

Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Dichondra carolinensis

Calyptocarpus vialis

 

 

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Native ground covers for rocky, shady slope in Arlington, TX
January 25, 2009 - I need a good native ground cover for a completely shaded and rocky 30 degree slope with red sandy soil and southern exposure. Will anything grow in these conditions?
view the full question and answer

Tree as shade alternative to carport in Austin
April 21, 2010 - Hello, I'm looking for a small tree that could provide afternoon shade for two cars, as an alternative to a carport. When mature, the tree would need to be tall enough to grow around (and above) the...
view the full question and answer

Native grasses or sedges for a border in Texas
August 12, 2011 - I am in the process of gradually replacing some of my landscaping in Dallas Texas with native Texas plants. Your website has been very helpful. I now wish to replace a liriope border, which has cro...
view the full question and answer

Need a shade tree in a limited space in Louisville, GA
October 29, 2009 - Mr. Smarty Pants, Hello! What kind of tree would be good to shade, in a limited space, and having a taproot? This is in middle Ga. One side of yard has main water pipe coming in off the road and ...
view the full question and answer

What will grow under neighbor's overhanging tree in Grosse Pointe Woods MI
May 29, 2011 - My next door neighbor has a beautiful tree that is easily 60 years old and thus not going anywhere. Unfortunately, for me the roots of this tree have extended under a large corner of my back yard. Add...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center